Proud Mary is happy to welcome our first guest blogger, Pearl Prynne!
I’ve always been a big girl. I was born that way — literally. At 22 inches long and 9lbs, 9 ounces, I was at the very high end of “normal” in both length and weight for newborns. With that appreciable introduction to the world, it is no big shock that I have been considered “plus size” for much of my life.
In elementary school, I loved gymnastics – tumbling, cartwheels, and all, but had little opportunity for actual lessons. I do have one vivid memory of going to a local gymnastics club with a friend who was a member when I was about 9 years old. I was having a great time, until I overheard two adults talking about my friend and me. About me, they said, “She’s got some talent, but she’s too big to ever be any good.”
That was heartbreaking. Until that time, I never gave too much thought to being somewhat larger than most of my friends.
As I got older and went through puberty, it was clear I was going to be curvy. I was wearing a “regular” size bra when many of my friends were wearing training bras or still wearing undershirts. As a preteen and teen, shopping was absolutely exasperating. “Junior” sized clothes are rarely made with the curvier young woman in mind. Everything seemed designed for small busted, narrow hipped girls and I was clearly heading into hourglass body-type territory.
Finding anything that fit, and fit well, were like minor miracles. Much of the time I ended up leaving empty-handed, feeling frustrated and bad about myself.
This has held true into adulthood. Things still seem designed to fit women with slim shoulders, and smaller busts and hips. I still end up trying on dozens of items, hoping to find at least one that fits and looks decent.
Objectively, it is understandable why it is so difficult to find properly fitting plus size clothing. “Plus size” encompasses so many different body types that spending time and money on trying on accommodating each type is rarely a goal for clothing designers and manufacturers.
Pants and jeans are my nemesis. Finding pairs that a) fit over my hips b) fit over my calves and c) actually fit my waist without gaping open several inches are few and far between. Belts can help, but cannot hide excess fabric bunching around the waist. Wearing anything tucked in is not an option. Pleated pants may as well be sent from hell.
Tops are not much better. I usually end up with one or more of the following fitting problems: a) tops not fitting across shoulders/bust or that cut too high under arms b) button-down style tops gaping open c) overly blousy styles giving a muumuu — or worse, maternity top — effect and d) high necklines and collars that only seem to emphasize the broadness of the upper bust and shoulders.
Through a lot, and I do mean A LOT, of trial and error, I have found some style elements that are flattering to my body type. Now I seek out these styles when shopping to try to save myself some time and heartache.
For tops/bodices, they include:
- Princess style seams or darts, particularly in button-down blouse styles
- Sweetheart or lower-cut scoop necklines
- Surplice style bodices in tops and dresses.
- For pants and skirts, style elements include:
- Boot cut or straight leg pants/jeans – no tapered leg!
- Strategically placed darts around the waist/hips, but for the love of all that is good and pure, no pleats! This is true for both skirts and pants.
- A-line skirts, both long and short
- Avoiding yoke styling on the hips in both skirts and pants.
- Embracing pencil-skirts to show off the curves!
- Belts to emphasize the waist, particularly wider-width style belts.
Specifically for jeans, stretch denim allows for more comfort and ease of movement compared to regular denim and is very flattering for curves. Many women also find a high waist helps jeans fit over their hips and also showcase their shape.
I am still on the hunt for the pair of jeans or pants with the ideal waist to hip size ratio for me. Once in a great while I find a pair and hang on to them for dear life.
Two brands worth checking out are Levi’s and Good American. For me, Levi’s Jeans are one brand that I have found to be consistently better fitting than others. To make it easier, Levi’s uses measurements for sizing and has hundreds of cuts to choose from.Check out their on-line fit finder.
The Good American brand by Khloe Kardashian was introduced in 2016 and is designed for the hourglass shape. I have not personally tried them yet, but they have received rave reviews. Find them onlineor at Nordstroms
For more dressy attire, I have found fitted, tailored dresses tend to flatter the hourglass figure, particularly those with vintage style elements. In post –war 1940s, Christian Dior introduced the New Look, which is particularly flattering to the hourglass body type. With tailored bodices, full skirts and wasp waists, curves were the desired look. Vintage style has made a resurgence in recent years, which makes finding items much easier than scouring resale stores or estate sales.
If fitted styles are not your cup of tea, and you yearn for long flowing dresses but dread the caftan look, take heart. Dresses incorporating curvy-favorable elements do exist! My favorite dress is ballerina length, with a sweetheart neckline, coupled with princess seams. The figure flattering princess seams gently emphasize curves without being tight or uncomfortable and the sweetheart neckline deemphasizes shoulder width, and flatters the bust without being too low-cut.
First and foremost, personal style and comfort is the best style for anyone of any body type. To look good, one must feel comfortable and confident what they are wearing, regardless of how technically “flattering” or not a style may be for their body type. Finding what looks good and feels good on you may take a little work but is absolutely worth the effort.
Guest Blogger: Pearl Prynne